Starz‘s Outlander has always delighted in blending fact with fiction and the Season 7 mid-season finale was no exception. We finally get to see the conclusion of the second Battle of Saratoga in Outlander Season 7 Episode 8 “Turning Points,” an engagement that claimed the lives of many and pits Jamie (Sam Heughan) against his secret son William (Charles Vandervaart). However the real hero of the historic battle isn’t Jamie or William; it’s Benedict Arnold (Rod Hallett)!

**Spoilers for Outlander Season 7 Episode 8 “Turning Points,” now streaming on Starz**

Outlander Season 7 Episode 8 “Turning Points” opens with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) saving her beloved Jamie from battlefield scavengers. Yes! Jamie lives! But Claire has to use up the last of her laudanum to care for him. Luckily for Claire, however, a mysterious gentleman approaches her tent looking to make a trade. See, he’s heard that she has cinchona bark (which contains traces of quinine, a treatment for malaria) and he’s willing to fork over some laudanum for it. This guy’s name? Benedict Arnold.

If you’ve been keeping up with Decider’s Outlander coverage, you might already know that the infamous American traitor Benedict Arnold was indeed supposed to be at many of the same historic places that Claire and Jamie found themselves in Season 7. Benedict Arnold was actually one of the real life soldiers who pulled off Jamie’s gambit of carrying gun carriages up Sugar Loaf Hill in an attempt to warn General Gates that Fort Ticonderoga had a key strategic weakness. Indeed, Arnold should have been hobnobbing with Claire and Jamie for the past few episodes! Nevertheless, Outlander Season 7 Episode 8 introduces Arnold in a gripping way that leaves us wondering if Claire might have inadvertently encouraged his eventual treason.

Here’s everything you need to know about the real Benedict Arnold and what Outlander gets right (or wrong) about his service at the Battles of Saratoga…

Who Was the Real Benedict Arnold? The True Story Behind Outlander‘s Version of the Battles of Saratoga:
Benedict Arnold was born in 1741 in Norwich, Connecticut to a family who had been in the colonies for generations. (His great-grandfather Benedict Arnold I was actually governor of Rhode Island.) His father was a successful business man, but his fortunes faltered in the 1750s and he turned to alcoholism. This cost the young Arnold an opportunity to attend Yale as expected. His mother instead secured him an apprenticeship with her cousins as an apothecary. Hence, his comment to Claire about running an apothecary is totally sound!

Eventually Benedict Arnold became a successful merchant in his own right. However, this meant that he felt the effects of England’s unpopular Sugar and Stamp Acts even more acutely than most. He joined the Sons of Liberty and eventually joined the Connecticut militia at the start of the Revolutionary War.

Arnold soon distinguished himself in the Continental Army by coming up with the idea for the original capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775. Over the next two years, he fought in Quebec and was put in charge of defending Rhode Island. He made many friends — including George Washington and Philip Schuyler — and many enemies. Arnold felt he was repeatedly being passed over for promotions, which rankled him. He attempted to resign numerous times from the Continental Army, but Washington repeatedly denied his resignation.

By the summer of 1777, Arnold was sent to New York to serve under General Gates (played by Ged Simmons in Outlander). During the first Battle of Saratoga, Gates and Arnold had a tremendous falling out. Arnold specifically defied Gates’s orders during the Second Battle of Saratoga by riding into the fray to lead attacks against the British. (There are some historians who suggest Arnold might have been drunk at the time.)

Just as we see in Outlander, Arnold’s leadership helped spur the Americans on to victory. His brash riding also put him right in the line of fire and he suffered a shot to the leg. It is indeed true that he wished that he had been killed for he would have died a hero. Instead, he opted to crudely set his broken leg in lieu of amputating it. This meant that he spent months out of the field and when he finally returned to his men at Valley Forge, his healed leg was two inches shorter and he walked with a limp.

Sort of a sour situation for a brilliant man with a constant chip on his shoulder, huh? So why did Benedict Arnold betray America? WAS IT BECAUSE CLAIRE AGREED WITH HIM??

Did Claire Encourage Benedict Arnold to Become a Traitor on Outlander?
By 1780, Benedict Arnold would have fully turned on America. His new loyalist bride connected him with the British and he hatched a plan to turn over West Point for £20,000. Arnold’s scheme was discovered, however, and he was able to defect to the British before Americans could capture him. He would eventually die in England and be remembered as traitor for centuries.

So why did Arnold turn? Probably because of spite and because we know he was literally in debt to Congress. The guy needed cash, but more importantly, he had been tending a laundry list of grievances against his superiors. Outlander does a great job of illustrating Arnold’s dissatisfaction with his lot, but goes maybe a fictional step further.

While Claire tends to Benedict Arnold’s wounds, she gets the whole sob story about how Gates sucks, how unfair his life is, and how he wished he had died a hero because he wants history to remember him. Claire is in a tricky situation because she knows Arnold will eventually betray America. Still, when Arnold asks her if he’s wrong to harbor these grudges, she says, “No.” Not only that, but she reassures him that history will remember him.

Claire’s comments seem to confirm to Arnold that he’s right to loathe his superior officers and might help spur him in a small way to eventually turn. You know, because Mistress Fraser said it’s not crazy to hate Gates! Claire has kept Arnold on the course of history, but in doing so, might have encouraged him to ruin his legacy.


By Damyan Ivanov

My name is Damyan Ivanov and i was born in 1998 in Varna, Bulgaria. Graduated high school in 2016 and since then i'm working on wordpress news websites.